After last spring's election, the optimists among us hoped that -- with a secure majority -- we would see a kinder, gentler government. Those optimists hoped for more mutual respect among the parties. But Jack Layton's death was a harbinger of things to come. The government's contempt for the opposition continues. Tim Harper writes:
In its stonewalling over the Tony Clement G8 slush fund, the Conservative government has taken [contempt for parliament] to new lows and is mocking what was once a pillar of the Parliamentary process.
Clement, a senior minister in the Stephen Harper government, has become a figure of ridicule as he sits silently in his seat each day, like a child banished to the corner for a timeout.
When the House was last in session, the government stonewalled on Afghan detainee documents; and it refused to offer any cost estimates for its crime legislation. It is still refusing to provide costs for that legislation. Meanwhile, Mr. Clement -- who clearly obfuscated and ignored the government's own checks on public spending -- has been given the task of cutting government services and the jobs that go with them.
Yet, when government emails clearly call his actions into question, he refuses to defend himself. Others -- like the bombastic John Baird -- step up in his place. Bob Rae, who knows how Question Period should work, says of Clement:
We know very well that he can twitter. We know very well that he can tweet. What we also know is that he cannot get up on his feet.
What we don't know is whether or not Mr. Clement has any self respect. It would appear that self respect is the price of admission to Stephen Harper's cabinet.